Integrating web and mobile technology at events

“The technology we use now is very different than 10 years ago,” said Sam Smith (@samueljsmith) of Interactive Meeting Technology, who led this session to discuss advances in technology for event planners.

Smith gathered ideas from the group about what they would like to discuss. Participants talked about the types of technologies attendees or sponsors like to see at an event—as a participant said, “What works with who when?”—and new technologies currently on the horizon.

One participant said some attendees are “late adopters” and are not familiar with new technologies, so event planners must fit advances in technology into this “technology pigeon-hole.” The participant said she felt new technologies will help engage event attendees, teaching them about what’s available.

Smith discussed the use of SCVNGR, a game application that creates a scavenger hunt both online or offline.  A participant described SCVNGR as a very professional and complete platform.

In addition, the participants talked about creating foursquare badges for events. Although Foursquare is free for users, Smith said, the application requires a huge setup fee. One participant said creating a badge in Foursquare costs $20,000; Smith noted he would rather invest that $20,000 into building his company.

Smith talked about Poken, an electronic social business card. Users can upload their business details to a Poken device, available in various shapes and colors, which can be worn around the neck or on a key chain; contact details can be uploaded to a website or shared with others on any platform. Smith said this is interesting, as it is difficult to share information to or from different platforms.

Prices are beginning to come down on many virtual platforms, Smith said, but they could still cost $50,000–$80,000 to develop.

One event planner noted that he uses a variety of new social media technologies after an event. “You can’t meet everyone at the event,” he said. “The technology adds to an event, it doesn’t take away from it.”

Smith said development and usage of mobile apps exploded in 2009 and 2010 mentioning apps like Eventmobi, Ootoweb, and Quickmobile. Smith predicted that future mobile applications would support all operating systems and multiple size screens.

The group discussed the differences between iPads and tablet PCs. Smith demonstrated Penultimate, another iPad app, which enables him to use a stylus to take notes onscreen. He can email his notes as graphics files, which has eliminated the need for pen and paper. Smith also uses Keynote, an iPad app that allows him to give presentations. The Notebooks app “takes all of the drawings, documents, and notes and stores them in one file.”

Accessing the Internet can also be a challenge, Smith said. To remedy the lack of wireless access while he is on the road, he purchased a Verizon MiFi card, which provides wireless service for up to five devices, for a monthly fee of about $60. Smith mentioned a few video conferencing programs, noting that Skype works on mobile devices.

“What does a client want in security and privacy?” a participant asked. Smith said mobile solutions can provide limited security, but event planners should ensure that the mobile solution they choose has a privacy policy that addresses how data will be stored and deleted. For example, Firesheep is a free, open-source plug-in for Firefox that was released very recently. By using Firesheep at a free WiFi access point, anyone can steal another person’s user ID and password. Firesheep’s inventor created the app to demonstrate the lack of security in online systems.

Smith suggested that meeting organizers should use messaging in mobile applications sparingly. If you send too many messages, he said, participants stop listening. He recommended against sending non-emergency texts or alerts to attendee’s phones during a conference session, for example, because this would simply distract attendees from the presentation.

Session summaries produced by The Conference Publishers, the world’s leading specialists in capturing and repackaging conference content.

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1 Response to Integrating web and mobile technology at events

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